Manchester City's Biggest Problem Is Lack Of Finishing
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Pep Guardiola’s first season in England is not going to the way he planned. His Manchester City side are currently out of the top four, endangering their chances of qualifying for the Champions League — let alone winning the title.
They also have the most losses out of all teams in the top six with five defeats, and conceded the most goals with 28. The team has many problems on the pitch, and converting their chances inside the final third seems to be the biggest one.
Although their defense is leaking goals almost every game and keeper Claudio Bravo seems useless, things could’ve gone a lot different had their attacking players took their chances on the other side of the pitch. The best defense may not necessarily be a good offense, but they do possess enough quality to outscore the opponents.
Last weekend’s draw against Tottenham Hotspur was the perfect example of how Manchester City are dropping points despite totally outplaying the opposition.
The Citizens had 17 shots, with seven of them being on target. Somehow, only two of them ended up in the back of the net, and both were thanks to uncharacteristic errors from Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris. Had he not made those two costly mistakes, City might not even have scored, even with so many opportunities coming their way.
Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero, and David Silva all had great chances in the 18-yard box, but none of them could find the back of the net. Even Leroy Sane, who broke the deadlock in the 49th minute, wasted a wide open header earlier in the match. Raheem Sterling also broke through to have an one-on-one chance against Lloris. But the young English winger ended up being fouled by Kyler Walker from behind and, instead of going down to get the penalty, Sterling sent in a very weak shot straight at Loris - a very good chance wasted by naivety.
Meanwhile, the story was very different for Spurs. They just had two shots on target, with both of them ending up in the back of the net.
Guardiola admitted after the game that his side does have trouble scoring goals, saying, “It was an outstanding performance. It’s a pity but it’s a copy of what’s happened this season. We created more chances, we conceded few, but we are not able to win the right decisions in the right moments. But you have to score goals. We created too many chances, so many chances, and after that against a top team like Tottenham, they shoot two times and scored two goals. It’s impossible.”
He does have a point when he pointed out that it was a copy of what’s been occurring throughout this season. His City side were in similar situations before, particularly in both fixtures against Everton and Chelsea.
In the home game against Everton, City were in complete control with 19 shots and eight on target. However, they were very wasteful that day with their chances, including two missed penalties, and had to settle for a draw.
They were punished more severely in the return leg against Everton and Chelsea, where they suffered 4-0 and 3-1 losses, respectively. They again dominated Everton in Goodison Park, having 13 shots with five on target. However, none of them ended up in the back of the net while the home side scored four goals from four shots on target.
It was a similar situation against Chelsea: 14 shots and five on target produced just one goal for the hosts while the Blues scored three from four shots on target. City winning that match could’ve changed a lot of things regarding the title race, but now it’s virtually impossible for them to chase down the leaders.
There is a one positive outlook for Guardiola and City supporters though. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus can save their season, as he has proven to be lethal around the goal. The 19-year-old scored up to 12 goals in 27 matches to help Palmeiras win the league title and has four goals in six appearances for the national team.
Jesus also had a brilliant debut, and gave Spurs’ defense a lot of trouble after he came on in the 82nd minute. He even managed to score a goal, but was ruled offside.
Guardiola played down the impact the youngster can have, saying, “He has his talent, but alone (he) cannot do that. So we have to involve (him) a lot.”
Nonetheless, Jesus can be the solution to the City side that can’t seem to score at the moment and help them finish in the top four at the end of the season.